|Wednesday Nov 4 th……..Winton
Nice night in Alpha, cooled down soon enough for a comfortable sleep. . We’re almost civilised now, watched a movie on dvd on the laptop last night. Had all the blinds open this morning so the sun was peeking in at about 5.30, enough sleep so up and at ‘em. Not a lot of travellers through here, only permanents in the park, left Alpha 7ish, bound for Barcaldine. Passed through Jericho, small place but you cross the railway line 3 times through here.
Approaching Barcaldine, there’s evidence of some recent rain, a few big puddles on the roadside, then we notice all of the creeks we cross are full of water. Then in the paddocks are huge lakes and even some debris across the road. Pull into Barcaldine for a coffee and I ask the lady if they’ve had a bit of rain. “Yep” she says, “2 inches , Friday, followed by 3 inches Saturday” . Really only a localised storm but a biggy. Had coffee, stopped in at IGA for some groceries and moved on. Barcaldine must really rock in the tourist season, only a population of 1600 but 5 motels, 5 hotels, 4 coffee shops and 2 supermarkets. An extremely neat, friendly place. Not long we’re passing through Ilfrachrome with its mile long antique machinery display which goes from one end of the town to the next. We were here in 2008 so have had a good look. Appears to be some additions.
The landscape is now really flattening out , dry and flat for miles and miles and miles. There’s a phenomenal amount of dead kangaroos on the road verges…it’s like the killing fields out here. Not all “recent”….many just skin and bones but more than I’ve ever seen anywhere else.
Pulled into Longreach , the Qantas 747 standing out like a dunny in the desert as we approach the outskirts. I was hoping to buy a small 12 volt fan at a Supercheap autos but could only find an (expensive) specialty camping shop….didn’t really want to pay an arm and a leg for something which may only be used a couple of times…if at all. Terri ducked into a drive thru’ bottle shop for her 6 pack. Can’t believe she’s run out already. It’s only beer she’s drinking now, because we’re in the outback. The red will be back on the menu in Albany.
Kept on keeping on. Another 2 hours to get to Winton. Outside temp sitting on about 32, not too bad. We can see storm clouds in the distance and before long the wipers are on. The temp drops down to 22. Luvlee. Pass thru the rain and it’s getting warmer…34. Another big rain and cool again, back to 22. Then, as we approach Winton I notice it’s 37, then 38…driving into town, thirty bloody nine!! This can’t be good. I wanted to ask about the Plenty Highway (road conditions) so went into the visitors centre . The lady tried a couple of times but no answer. Apparently, from the travellers info, this time of the year it can rain and get almost impassable. We can ask again at Boulia, which is 360kms further west. If we can’t use this road (750kms of dirt) we can go up to Mt Isa and across to the Stuart Hwy, using a bitumen road.
Initially, I thought we could keep driving for a bit longer but decided to find a caravan park with a pool and stay the night in Winton. Good idea, set up the C/T and jumped in the pool. Still hot, but there’s some breeze and storm clouds all around. We might cop a storm tonight. Might lash out tonight and have some pub grub and mix with the local cowboys (and cowgirls). Winton is Australias dinosaur capital….so any budding paleontoligists out there, this is where you need to be. Or, you can look for opals, if you’re keen enough.
Time for a shower and spruce up for a night out in Winton. Still undecided on which way we’ll be going across to the Northern Territory, hopefully we can get some info tomorrow.